Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Instead of Baby Einstein: How to Engage Your Baby With Music

When my daughter was a baby, we signed up for Music Together classes. Soon after, I got my Kindermusik certification and taught for a large school. When hubby's job moved us again, I decided to start my own early childhood music and movement program, so I did some training with Musikgarten and opened up a studio. I’m not teaching those classes anymore, but I learned so much by being involved with all three of those programs. One of the things I learned is this:

Don’t spend your money on baby music videos.

Here’s why. Passively watching a television screen isn’t going to teach your child musical skills. Making music will. It's possible that watching those videos might even delay language development. A team led by Frederick Zimmerman and Dr. Dimitri Christakis at the University of Washington discovered that with every hour per day spent watching baby DVDs and videos, infants learned six to eight fewer new vocabulary words than babies who never watched the videos. (Baby Einsteins: Not So Smart After All)

I’m all for playing classical music for your child. You should do that often. But, you can do that for free with Pandora radio or your local NPR station. When you discover classical music you like, buy the CDs! Listen to the music yourself in the car and on your own, as well as together with your child because this communicates that you value it. Listening to classical music may improve your child’s cognitive abilities – to be honest, the jury’s still out on whether the so-called Mozart effect really exists. But listening to classical music together and demonstrating to your child that this is something mommy and daddy enjoy will certainly improve the possibility that your child will grow to appreciate it.

If you really want to get your child's creative juices flowing, then don't just be a passive music consumer. Make music a hands-on activity and be a music maker! Put on some music and take all the pots and pans out of the kitchen and play. Don’t just give him a pot and a spoon, but get one yourself, too, and model playing on the steady beat. Have fun! Don’t worry about whether he’s right on the beat yet. He’ll get it in his own time, and the more often you clap, bang on a drum, or shake the maracas, the sooner that skill will emerge. The mantra I chanted over and over in the classes I taught was “you are your child’s best teacher.” He learns to talk, walk, and do most everything by observing and imitating the grownups around him.

So, don’t give him a video to watch. Let him watch you making music!

Picture by Qole Perjorian

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1 comment:

Rebecca said...

Great post! I hope my daughter will absorb all the music going on in our house.